After a long hard academic year at the chalk face (although, even I don't use chalk any more) it’s that time of the year when the Rowlands family begins its summer European exodus. I’ll be speaking in various countries, and kicking the whole thing off will be some talks at How the Lights Gets In – the festival of philosophy and music, held annually in Hay-on-Wye, Wales. It’s a great festival:

“Bringing together world-leading scientists, musicians, philosophers and politicians including Roger Penrose, Simon Blackburn, Laurie Penny, George Galloway, David Nutt, Katie Derham, Molotov Jukebox, Owen Jones, and Mr. Scruff for debates, talks, and wild parties, this year’s programme uncovers the new heresies that might become the truths of the future.”

I had a blast there last year. And so if anyone fancies a few enjoyable days in the beautiful countryside of the Welsh-English border, I highly recommend it. My contributions to the Festival are below (descriptions lifted from the Festival’s website):

Memory and the Self (Tuesday, May 27th 11.00 a.m.) Do memories make us who we are? The bestselling author of The Philosopher and the Wolf seeks all our all-seeing 'I'.

Mummy's Little Secret (Tuesday, May 27th 12.00 p.m.) Doon Mackichan, Meg Rosoff, Mark Rowlands, Mark Salter. Afua Hirsch hosts. From Father Christmas to the tooth fairy we are charmed by the fantasies we tell our children. Yet we do not condone telling lies to adults. We no longer beat our children; is it time to start telling them the truth as well? Would this create a more honest open culture or tarnish childhood? How I Live Now author Meg Rosoff, Smack the Pony and Brass Eye star Doon Mackichan, bestselling philosopher Mark Rowlands, and psychiatrist and filmmaker Mark Salter weigh up the value of duplicity.

The Banality of Evil (Tuesday, May 27th 2.30 p.m.) Camila Batmanghelidjh, Sally Green, Mark Rowlands. Andrew Copson hosts. In this placatory age, we tend to believe in evil acts, but not evil people. Yet how can we separate a person’s actions from their nature? Could it be that, for whatever reason, some people are simply evil? Would this help us better understand the nature of wrongdoing, or is it simply a way of covering up the evil within ourselves? Bestselling author of The Philosopher and the Wolf, Mark Rowlands, founder of Kids Company Camila Batmanghelidjh, and Half Bad novelist Sally Green ask whether people can be born evil. In association with the British Humanist Association.

Animals: Minds, Morality, and Agency IAI Academy Course (Thursday 29th May 10.00 a.m. – 1.00 p.m.) Do we radically misclassify animals? Miami based Professor of Philosophy Mark Rowlands challenges the boundaries between humankind and animals as minds and moral agents alike.

Part One: Animal Minds From emotion to beliefs, how do we delve into the minds of animals? Do they explore ours?

Part Two: Animal Rights What rights should animals have? Should their interests not be overridden by human concerns?

Part Three: Can Animals Be Moral? Do animals act with compassion? If animals are moral, what would it mean for humanity?

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